In a relief to senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka, Haryana's BJP government has dropped chargesheet against him in which he had been charged by the previous Congress regime with exceeding his jurisdiction as he had cancelled the mutation of a land deal between a firm owned by Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra and realty major DLF.
The chargesheet against the 1991-batch officer has been dropped on the directive of the Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, official sources said here today.
The order for dropping of the chargesheet was issued by the Chief Secretary's office yesterday, they said, adding a communication was being sent to Khemka as well.
Khemka had been chargesheeted by the previous Hooda government, which had accused him of exceeding his jurisdiction by cancelling the mutation of the land deal over three years back between Skylight Hospitality, owned by Vadra, and DLF. It contained some other charges also.
The seven-page chargesheet was issued to him in December 2013 and the officer had submitted his reply to the state government earlier this year. He was also given a personal hearing by Chief Minister Khattar recently.
However, Khemka, who is currently posted as Secretary and Director General, Archaeology and Museums Department, Haryana Government, in a tweet wrote, "No information from Government on decision in charge sheet issued on 4th Dec 2013. Media story is sweet music to my ears."
On October 15, 2012, Khemka had cancelled the mutation of land deal between M/s Skylight Hospitality and the DLF. The Rs 58 crore deal related to 3.5 acre land in Gurgaon's Shikohpur village, which was sold by Vadra to DLF.
It was surrounded by controversy over allegations of undervaluation.
After Khemka was chargesheeted, the BJP, which was in opposition at that time, and INLD had said the action amounted to punishing an "honest" bureaucrat for "exposing scams".
The IAS officer, who has faced over 40 transfers during his career so far, had been chargesheeted under the provisions of the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules.
The chargesheet, signed by the then Haryana Chief Secretary Pradeep Kumar Chaudhery, had also taken serious note of Khemka speaking to the media after the cancellation of the mutation in the chargesheet, apart from his criticism of the government's policies.
The previous state government had alleged that Khemka's action was an administratively improper step since he stood transferred as Managing Director of Haryana Seed Development Corporation from the Consolidation of Land Holdings department. He had also been accused of selectively singling out a particular mutation.
Khemka had been held liable for alleged administrative misconduct for overstepping jurisdiction in passing orders to cancel the mutation of 3.5 acre land in Gurgaon's Shikohpur village. The land was sold by Vadra to DLF.
He had also been accused of deliberately not leaving the charge even four days after his transfer and charged with causing damage to the reputation of both the parties.
The Hooda government had maintained that the cancellation of mutation was not within his jurisdiction and he had passed his orders without giving any opportunity to the concerned parties of being heard.
Notably, the previous Congress government in the state had given a clean chit to the Rs 58-crore land deal after a committee was set up by it to probe the orders of Khemka in the wake of his decision to cancel the mutation of the land.
The committee had held that there was no undervaluation of land for payment of stamp duty on land registration as alleged and had put the IAS officer in the dock for acting beyond the authority vested in him.
Meanwhile, after receiving the official communication, Khemka tweeted, "Exonerated after 700-day ordeal. Allegations labelled as charge was my duty as a pubic servant. Beholden to Almighty".